44 I'm not afraid," the man on the bed said again, as though
" No "—and Mr. Munn shook his head slightly, like a man
trying, puzzledly, to recall something—" you're not afraid. I
thought you'd be afraid."
" I was almost afraid when I knew you, standing there. But
I'm not—not now. A time back, a month ago, maybe, I'd
have been afraid. But not now, Perse. Things change, Perse.
You don't know how it is, Perse." He studied the face of the
man leaning there toward him. " Why don't you go on and
do it, Perse? Perse, why don't you? You came here to do it,
Perse?" And the voice went on softly, almost cajolingly,
pronouncing the name.
He took the revolver from his pocket and looked at it.
" I'm going to kill you," he declared. " It'll be a favour to
kill you. A favour to you. If I didn't kill you, you'd lie
here, in this house, and be nothing. Nothing; and you
thought you were something. You still think so. You've
got a new mailbox, out there on the road, but"—and he
leaned closer, shaking his head as in pity—"but there won't
be anything in it. Ever. You'd be nothing. But you know "
—and he leaned again, shaking his head—"you were always
nothing. Nothing. Nothing."
" Nothing?" the voice echoed questioningly. " A man never
knows what he is, Perse. You don't know what you are,
Perse. You thought you knew, one time, Perse. When we
were friends, Perse." He lay back, not closing his eyes, but
letting the lids droop a little so that no gleam showed. He
said, tiredly: "I liked you, Perse, I like you now. I don't
know what you are, but I like you. And you don't know."
"I do know. I'm nothing," he uttered distantly, and cocked
the revolver, but did not point it. " But when I do it, I won't
be nothing. It came to me, Do it, do it, and you'll not be
nothing. Like that, like words, it came into my head, and I
came here. To kill you." He pointed the revolver. He re-
mained motionless for a moment, then said, "Not because
you are filthy, but for myself. To know what I